Shedding

Detail from "Shedding Vapor"

Detail from “Shedding Vapor”

And then you cry fresh tears, because you do not miss him as much as you once did,
and giving up your grief is another kind of death.”
~Laurell K. Hamilton

This endless undoing has left me raw. I am honestly not sure what is worse: that I still miss him so, or knowing that the pain and loss I feel now, as wracking as it is, is a dim shadow of what I experienced last summer. Knowing that when this bottleneck is done, a large part of the grieving process is done, or at least as done as it ever will be. I am losing him all over again.

Last week and the early part of this week were as rough a period as I’ve had in a long time. In my dreams, he came back and we picked where we left off, planning a future together. In my nightmares, I screamed at him for all the things that hurt then and still do now. Either way, I woke gasping for breath in an airless room and an empty bed.

The anxiety came back, thrumming along the nerves. I felt hunted and trapped. I know what’s coming. I know it’s going to hurt.

All I can do is wait. This already hurts so much, how much worse can it get? Sleep has already once again become something that happens to other people.

I finished school for the semester yesterday, earning A’s in both the classes I took. I am proud of myself, and relieved it’s over, at least until summer semester starts in four weeks. I need the time to pursue art. I need the freedom to stop compressing myself into a stable box in order to function well enough to meet my obligations. I need the time and the space to let this roll out of me until I’m wrung out and empty.

So many layers to peel back. So much emotion to open myself to, to allow to run through me, to leave me clean and empty and ready for what happens next.

To help, I scheduled a spa package on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, the day before the first anniversary of his death. I’m getting the works: full-body massage, facial, manicure and pedicure.  The luxuriousness and the decadence of it is something he would have loved. He had very expensive taste, did my beautiful boy.

My spa day is also probably the only way for me to receive caring physical touch at a time when I will rather desperately need it. Sometimes that’s the way it goes, so I found another way to deal with it. Yes, I know it’s a sad commentary on my life, but I am trying very hard not to dwell on it. I start wallowing in self pity and I will really start disliking myself.

He is a part of me, always, indelible. This process, one that began the moment we laid eyes on each other, is the internal rearrangement necessary to finish making room for him in my heart, soul and mind. His physical self is gone from me, but not his heart and spirit, but the integration with mine is incomplete. I have a feeling by the time this anniversary period is over, we will have gotten there. I will be able to move on, carrying him and our love with me seamlessly.

Always.

Interlude #8

Dreamless, 2007 by Man-Yu Fung

Dreamless, 2007
by Man-Yu Fung

Oh, love, it’s been six months as of today. Six months ago, a part of me died, half my soul ripped away. 

This morning, I woke up alone, with an icy breeze coming through the cracks around my windows, and I felt so desolate, curled up small in a bed that gets bigger every morning I wake up in it.

You were my only source of physical affection. You know I was never really a touchy-feely person; given how I grew up, it’s surprising I ever wanted touch at all. But you, your touch, your warmth…I miss that – I miss you – oh, so much.

Holding hands in the Gardens.

Your hands in my hair.

Kissing in the front seat of my car, waiting for the train.

Your hand on the small of my back.

Your touch always trailed fire. It would start at the base of my spine, curling up and around in a fizzing, snapping double helix until it reached my eyes. A hissed indrawn breath, and all my nerves and every inch of skin would alight, my whole body channeling lightning and love.

You made me luminous, glowing like a moon afire. And you matched me, shine for shine. 

I don’t glow anymore, not the way I did with you. Now, I am a banked fire, curled up and waiting. For what, I don’t know. I don’t want to love again, I don’t even want to try. I still want, so much, what I can’t have. You, only you, always you.

I told you I didn’t know how to live without you. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. 

Oh, love, come home. Come back to me.

Adagio For A Broken Heart

Broken Stone Heart - Yukifujita

Last night, a friend tried to help me navigate my blasted and twisted internal landscape (and bless him for trying, it wasn’t easy). That conversation gave voice to the endless cry inside my broken heart: Dustin cherished me, as I did him. And I lost that.

Let me be clear here: that was the first time I’d ever felt that way. I don’t just mean in romantic relationships – I mean ever. And it was the same for him.

One of the things we shared, for better or for worse, was an emotionally sterile and cold home environment, with distant and emotionally unavailable parents (both of mine, in my case; his mother in particular in his. His father was a welter of emotion, most of it rage and none of it good). We both spent our childhoods feeling a nuisance at best, experiencing tears that didn’t get comforted, fears and hurts ignored or dismissed.

I watch children playing with their parents in the park, playing tag in their yards, and I wonder what that must be like. My brother and I played all the time, but rarely with our parents. We seemed to be always pushed to just get out of the way.

Funny, how much the moments of irritation and anger stand out, while the rare moments of affection do not.

No one’s childhood is perfect. Mine could have been much, much worse-more like Dustin’s, for example. I know and understand how my parents got to be the way they are, and I don’t harbor any resentment for it anymore. Their own homes were broken by divorce and early widowhood; they never had any healthy role models for parenting.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t have deep-seated needs for the things I didn’t get growing up. Feeling as if I matter to someone, feeling cherished and loved, feeling safe and secure, needing physical affection and tenderness–these are all things we both craved. We always touched each other so carefully, with wonder and joy. I can still feel his fingers tracing a gentle line from my temple to my jaw, feel his thumb brush over my lips. I can still feel his cheek in the palm of my hand, how he would hold it to him, turn his head to kiss my palm. How he would cradle my hand to his chest in his sleep as I cuddled up behind him.

Intimacy had never existed in my life before. I daresay it hadn’t existed in his either, no matter how much he struggled to find it. We could tell each other anything, be honest about who we were and how we felt.

How much of yourself do you hide every day because you don’t think people will understand, even your partner? How many people do you really feel you can be authentic with and not be met with judgement and condemnation, but with understanding and acceptance? What do you do, where do you go, when you’ve found that, only to lose it?

What am I supposed to do now?